Write? But I'm a painter. Exactly.
With lots going on in my head and my life. There's the yard work, the taxes, buying groceries, aging parents, two cats that have issues with each other. And the car, the computers, the iPad, the internet. Students, classes, dentist and other doctors. Get's really busy in my head. Add a new woodchuck to my long list of critters finding my garden Eden itself. Oops! I have to clean the pond filter. Where are all these flies coming from?! Don't forget getting gas, getting groceries (yes, I know I've already said this) all over the state of Massachusetts because the ones I need are never in the same stores. Why is this not working (add any number of things here - lawnmower, snowblower, iPhone....)! What does it mean, Google, that I have blocked URLs?!!!! Can I inject my computer with an unblocker? WHAT?!!!!!
And I don't have kids like most of you do! Can't imagine having to deal with one more thing. And I know there will always be one more thing.
So I write. Every morning with my cup of coffee. A half hour to 45 minutes every single day for the last 10 years. Can't start a day without writing. What do I write about? Absolute, completely mindless dribble. No, really! In my "morning pages" I can threaten to annihilate my neighbors who allow their dog to bark for an hour at 5 in the morning (of course I would never annihilate them but I do get an evil sense of pleasure writing about it). I can report on the list of groceries I bought at Trader Joe's. How many rabbits were in the garden; what marvelous or hilariously stupid thing I did yesterday (oh boy do these take up a lot of my writing space); rant about insurance, the internet......everything! What I write is of no importance or consequence. I can write "I" as many times as I want without being self-conscious of being narcissistic. I can write blah blah blah blah blah a million times across 3 pages of my college ruled notebook. Completely, totally, mindless dribble (or is that drivel? or drizzle?)! Hell! I can even make words up! What is important is simply the act of writing. It never has to be read - by anyone including me.
It all started with Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Julia sets up assignments that contribute to opening, discovering our artistic selves. Those selves that always seem to end up on the back burner while we take care of our jobs, our spouses, our children, our pets, our cars, our homes, our parents, etc., etc., etc. Have to, Have to, Have to takes the place of creating, resting, reading, slowing down long enough to replenish our psyches. Once our day starts it's like being sucked up into a tornado. 'Round and 'round we go until we crash down at the end of the day empty and depleted.
So, the very first assignment in Julia Cameron's book is to write 3 pages every single morning. Not to be read by anyone, nor criticized, nor thought about. Just write. Well! 3 pages was a hell of a lot of writing at first! And there were mornings I did write blah blah blah blah......for most of my pages. But after awhile I started to look forward to the writing. Sometimes ideas would present themselves, sometimes the past would poke its creepy head into my pages. But it didn't matter because no one was ever going to see these thoughts. No one would be pulling my writing apart because I miss-spelled a word or didn't organize my thoughts so someone else could understand them.
And that's the point. I can be as crazy insane, dopey, duh, pissed off, or a rage maniac. It's not all bouncing around in my head like the balls in a Bingo machine. OO! there's a thought! OO! there's a though!! OO! there's another thought! Or - holy crap! where did that come from!!!!!! My head is calmed down, opened up and emptied leaving room to paint a painting! or write a book! or solve an simple day to day problem.
It's a weight off. I can bitch, moan, scream, swear, drop f bombs all over my pages and it's all OK. I shut off my inner critic and say "screw it!! (insert f bomb here)."
Sometimes, when I hear how overburdened some of you are, feeling trapped and alone, I think how maybe writing your thoughts, horrors, anxieties, humor, darkness and light might help ease your paths somewhat. Get yourselves a fat, college ruled notebook (the 10 subject kind) and a box of your favorite pens. Give yourselves, your creative spirits permission to be creative. You might find that masterpiece or that book you've always dreamed of.
And so, thank-you Julia Cameron for giving me permission to write, no talent required. Happy painting!